Like many small New England towns, Exeter is struggling to preserve its rural identity and quality of life in the face of sprawling residential and commercial development. Dodson & Flinker led the effort to create a “Game Plan for our Future,” founded on an extensive public participation process that included creative use of GIS mapping, game playing workshops, keypad polling, small-group interviews and on-line polling. The result was a strong consensus that village development is a better way to preserve working farm and forest landscapes while developing residential and commercial uses that would be a good fit for Exeter’s future needs.
Through a detailed analysis of the economic, environmental, and social costs and benefits of village development, the project created a shared understanding of likely future growth under existing large-lot zoning, and compared that with a more sustainable village alternative. The consultants identified four village sites with significant growth potential, and used one of them as a model for more detailed design studies. The result is a Village Design Manual that will act as a guide for developers, designers, and town boards as they go through the process of village design and permitting. A form-based Village Zoning Ordinance and Transfer of Development Rights process will channel growth to the best areas and ensure design that fits Exeter’s rural character.